The government will allow commercial mining in coal on a revenue-sharing basis to remove governmental monopoly in the sector, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday. "Coal is a government monopoly. That government monopoly is being removed," the Finance Minister said, while announcing structural reforms in coal and seven other sectors, as part of the government's "Atma Nirbhar Bharat" economic package to tackle the damage caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the weeks-long lockdown. Ms Sitharaman also said the government will spend Rs 50,000 crore to develop infrastructure and introduce private sector participation in the sector.
Among other reform measures in the coal sector, the distinction between captive and non-captive mines will be done away with, the Finance Minister said.
A total of 500 mining blocks will be offered through an open and transparent auction process, with nearly 50 blocks to be offered immediately.
The Ministry of Mines in the process of developing a mineral index for different minerals, Ms Sitharaman said.
The Finance Minister announced reforms in eight sectors - coal, minerals, defence production, civil aviation and aerospace management, social infrastructure, power sector distribution companies in Union Territories, space sector and atomic energy - as she provided details of the fourth set of measures under the government's economic package to battle COVID-19.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced monetary and fiscal support of Rs 20 lakh crore to support the economy, which is battered by the ongoing lockdown imposed by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
The coronavirus-triggered lockdown has pushed an already-ailing economy into a standstill, hampering businesses and landing thousands jobless.